The most important ingredient missing from Newcastle United – more important than a new manager, new players, a new MD and even a new owner, is the one thing which has caused the most damage by being removed, the soul of the club.
The once unbreakable connection between club, city and fans far and wide has eroded, the very essence of being a “proper” football club which made Newcastle United the envy of supporters the world over is gone.
The passion, the joy, the attitude, the dare to dream has been replaced by spin, PR, anger, bitterness and a brand of football so bland and passionless that Newcastle must now be one of the worst teams to watch in all four divisions. The situation is almost untenable for the club to even mean to fans what it once did, note that word ‘almost’, because I’ll come back to it later.
The removal of anything enviable or likeable from the football club has been a systematic process, which began pre-Ashley with the removal of Sir Bobby Robson and the retirement of Alan Shearer.
For the first time in almost 15 years the club was left without an identifying figure, a leader and focal point for the club to rally behind, a miniature dynasty that began with Keegan and Hall, carried on through Shearer and SBR and eventually dissipated with their leaving, and what followed has been nothing short of a disaster.
Being truly honest we were never likely to have a depth of feeling comparable to that we had for Keegan, Robson or Shearer, when it came to Sam Allardyce. Ashley realised this very early on and so swiftly brought back Keegan in the hopes that he could conduct his deals with South American agents under the counter whilst everyone else (fans, media and players) were so enraptured with KK that we wouldn’t even notice what was happening.
Unfortunately (for Ashley) the one person who did notice was Keegan and even more unfortunately the man employed to push these dodgy deals, was a contemptible little cockney (Dennis Wise) whose affinity with the Geordie fans is almost comparable to that of Lee Cattermole.
So Keegan was gone, never to return after winning his day in court and legally proving Ashley and his cohorts to be the liars and charlatans we all suspected them to be. Sir Bob was, at the time, a very poorly man and sadly would never return to football, this just left Shearer, and so that’s where Ashley turned next.
To try and instil some much needed pride into a squad of aging prima donnas and journeymen he brought back arguably the club’s greatest ever player, a standard bearer for a generation of Newcastle fans and asked him to perform a miracle, it didn’t happen.
What happened was that Shearer was poorly prepared for the monstrous task and found that passion alone was not enough to drag his mercenary squad over the line, so he failed by one solitary goal.
In the years since, we have seen a Hughton perform admirably and on course, only to be dismissed, we have endured Pardew, a man nicknamed “chocolate” by the West Ham players because he loved himself so much, a man who head-butted an opposition player, we have been bemused as John Carver was allowed to live his childhood dream whilst wiping the smiles off every spectator’s face in SJP and now we are just numb to the PE teacher with the bizarre hair and absolutely no actual clue as to what to do during the two hours after 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. We have been served up plate after plate of utter sh*t and been told it would turn into steak, not happening.
This, however, is not another doom and gloom article, this is an article of hope for the longer term future of Newcastle United. This is not an escape plan for this season as I sincerely believe that we are down now whatever happens, this is much more important, this is what needs to happen if Newcastle United is ever to become a football club again, because believe me, if this continues we are not that far away from becoming an irrelevance in the world of football.
Even for rival fans who have enjoyed the Schadenfreude of our plight, that spirit of spite has now been replaced with pity and a want to see the entire sorry mess brought to an end.
We need our leader back, we need our focal point, our club needs an identity and we fans need something to believe in, step forward Alan Shearer. We once built a team around Shearer, this was Keegan’s plan, he was our standard bearer, the greatest English striker of his generation, the Premier League’s all time highest scorer, but more than that he was one of us.
Every week for the last so many weeks, Alan Shearer has shown an anger, passion and attitude that has been sadly lacking in the team’s performances, not that this would be enough to keep us up this year (nothing would), but longer term he is the only man left capable of restoring our club’s identity.
What needs to happen is that Ashley needs to swallow his pride, Shearer needs to swallow his resentment for Ashley and we need to get back to the business of building the club around Alan Shearer.
Give him all the power he needs, all the money it takes and surround him with the finest coaches available and just let it work. Ashley needs to stay away, he needs to let Shearer repair the damage, he needs to take down all of those daft “Sh**e Direct” signs and fade into the background, and I mean for years not weeks.
He needs to let us begin to forget why we hate him before showing his face on Tyneside again, because believe me, if we lose to the Mackems and go down (again), that hate will boil over.
Many will argue that Alan Shearer isn’t a great coach, based on his eight high pressure games in charge, I neither agree nor disagree with this, he is still unproven. What Shearer’s appointment would give is something greater than tactical acumen, it gives us our identity back. If appointed he should be supported by the best and the brightest available, given the freedom to learn and make mistakes that his service to the club deserves, he should be allowed to run it as he sees fit.
To assist Alan Shearer I would look back into club history to bring on board others who could give us our pride back, the first two names on my list would be Nolberto Solano and Robert Lee, a pair of great professionals who know the game and the club inside out.
Think about that for a moment, would Alan Shearer have extended Coloccini’s contract if it were his decision?
Would Alan Shearer have allowed the club’s money to be spent on a second frivolous French winger when other reinforcements were so desperately required?
Would Alan Shearer continue allowing Sissoko to play when he feels like it?
Would Shearer play Gouffran over Perez?
Riviere over Doumbia or Mitrovic?
Would the ridiculous transfer follies of the last few years be allowed to continue with Alan Shearer in charge?
What I am not saying is that Shearer would get everything right, what I am saying is that if he were given the keys to the kingdom he would arrest much of what we all know to wrong, whilst bringing back a bit of pride, Geordie pride, to the club.
Ask yourself a few more questions, would the appointment of Shearer be better or worse than the current set up for developing local talent into the first team?
Would having a world renowned player, whose name is synonymous with the club, be better or worse for profile than having the bloke who failed to get Derby promoted in charge?
And simply, who would you rather place your faith in, Alan Shearer or Charnley, Carr, Moncur and McClaren?
Mike, if you’re not going to sod off then you need to make this happen and then get back to flogging tracksuits whilst Newcastle United tries to become a football club again.